Life is such a journey, and my path of travel writing has opened up so many opportunities for new experiences. When I was asked to go on a surf and yoga retreat in Nicaragua, I knew it was a bit out of the box for me. I had only done a little bit of yoga, and surfing…well, I had never even tried it before! But, I was game for doing something new, yet I had no idea that a few life-changing states of mind in the areas of self-care and discovery were waiting for me in Central America.
I was an invited guest of Traverse Journeys in Nicaragua. All opinions are my own.
Self-Care & Discovery
From trying new things to making overall changes to my state of mind, my trip to Nicaragua with Traverse Journeys really made an impact on my life. Here are five ways I experienced both self-care and discovery in Central America.
believe in myself
I took an informal poll through my Instagram stories of whether my followers thought I would be successful or not at surfing, and it was pretty split between “yes” and “no”. Unfortunately, my kids were among the naysayers…ha! But I was ready to try something new and give it my best shot. It didn’t matter if I was successful or not.
After a thorough surf lesson, I gave it a try and actually got up – mostly by believing that I could and having the determination to do so. I felt accomplished knowing that at my age I tried something new and physical and gave it a good go! Plus, it was just a fun self-care experience on a gorgeous day at a stunning beach.
So, whether people believe in me isn’t always the issue. I learned to believe in myself and fully try, which sometimes I think is half the battle. You never know unless you try!
listen to myself
Yoga was a bit more intimidating for me than the surfing. I didn’t have a lot of experience, and I knew that it took a lot of balance and was more difficult than it looked!
I’m a bit competitive – even only with myself sometimes – so my natural tendency is to push the limits even if it’s not what is best for me. When it came to yoga, I learned that I needed to listen to my body, and even if I couldn’t do the full position or stretch as far as others, I was still doing good for my body and practicing self-care.
Sometimes we need to listen to ourselves – our emotions, our bodies, our instincts – and do what is best for us and not what may be the norm for everyone else.
take care of myself
Our yogi, Angelina, was such a great instructor. Her voice was soothing as was her personality – she was sweet and very mindful. We were having a conversation, and one of the things she said to me literally changed my way of thinking – and I don’t even think she intended for her statement to do so.
She told me that with whatever she puts into her body – whether it be eating, listening to a conversation, or watching a movie – she evaluates that thing as to whether it will do her body harm or good. Listening to gossip? Is that helpful or harmful? That fast food meal? Is it helpful or harmful? Ouch! To me, that was SUCH an eye-opening way of thinking. Now I evaluate things in the same way. Even people in our lives can be toxic!
Thinking about whether something is good for me or bad for me in the long term has been such a great standard for evaluating so many different aspects of my life. What a fabulous way of looking at things!
As a sidebar, I loved the freshness of the food in Nicaragua. We had cooks on site, and they did a fabulous job of preparing healthy meals for us. It was a great jumpstart to making healthier choices.
get outside of myself
When it comes to vacations, many (me included) want to just get away from it all and do what they want. Lie on the beach? Explore a new town? Sure, why not? We all need to rest and take a break from time to time, but sometimes doing something for others can be just as effective.
One thing I adore about Traverse Journeys is their commitment to making a difference, so we spent an afternoon volunteering at Barrio Planta Project, which provides free, supplementary education for local children.
Our group spent time in different classes – computer, art, dance, yoga, physical education – for various age groups, and it was such a fun time of connecting with the kids despite language barriers (although some in our group spoke Spanish!). The kids really enjoyed having us there, and our time investing in them was so precious.
It is amazing what happens to us when we help others. Giving of ourselves has a great impact on both the giver and receiver. What a wonderful thing to do – near or far!
be by myself
Did you know that I am an only child? I am very social and always thought that I was an extrovert – which most people would probably say that I am – but I actually feel more like one of those introverted extroverts. Or extroverted introverts. Whichever it is, I definitely do reach a point where I need to just breathe and do something on my own.
I took two opportunities on this trip to go on solo walks to clear my head and explore a bit.
Our surfing lessons with Alex’s Surf School were at Remanso Beach, and we decided to head out there again another day for a time of relaxing in the sand. I walked to both ends of the beach, and both sides had fun discoveries! You will see that I found tiny shells slightly larger than a pinhead, lovely views, and a group of adorable little Nicaraguan girls enjoying time on the beach. I truly enjoyed having a feew moments to discover and practice self-care on my own.
Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia
One of the views I kept seeing when I was researching San Juan del Sur was from the vantage point of the Christ of the Mercy statue overlooking the city. We walked up one day, and it was incredibly steep. It was such a hike only to have it be overcast while we were there…boo!
So, I decided to hike up there one afternoon alone with clear skies. It was really hot and humid, but the view was oh so worth it. I spent a good bit of time just looking out and soaking in the views. So gorgeous!
When you travel, be sure to schedule in some time to explore on your own. It allows for organic discovery and time to reflect. You never know what you’ll come across!
No matter where your travels take you, I hope you learn something new from each and every trip! Go with an open mind and be prepared to make discoveries both about yourself and the place you are visiting. Oh, and speaking of new experiences, be sure to read about the unrest I saw while we were in Nicaragua here.
Here’s to experiencing new things!